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Remembering Huntington’s Math Club

Sigma Mu members outside the old Huntington High School in 1932.

November 7, 2018

Long before there was a national Math Honor Society chapter at Huntington High School there was a math club called Sigma Mu. It was formed in 1926 “by a group of students who desired to advance farther into mathematics than what the school offers,” according to the 1931 yearbook.

Like dozens of other clubs, Sigma Mu stuck around for several decades before eventually ceasing operations. But, in 1931, it featured an active membership of about 20 teenagers, including many of the school’s most “prominent” members.

Eligibility was restricted to students who had passed Geometry B and were accepted by the club. The faculty advisor during those early years was Barnard College graduate Edna Van Wart. In 1932, membership grew by nearly 50 percent. The club typically met every two week “to discuss mathematical freaks and peculiarities.”

Sigma Mu prospered under the steady leadership of Miss Van Wart, who enjoyed music in her free time. During the 1937-38 school year, regular meetings consisted of working on problems and puzzles and “current mathematical happenings.” The main events of the year were the Christmas party and the club’s June picnic.

The 1957 edition of The Huntingtonian doesn’t include any mention of Sigma Mu, instead referring to the group simply as the Math Club. Its members were termed “the wizards in our midst” and meetings focused on such topics as determinants, symbolic logic and calculus. Members competed in the Pi Mu Epsilon contest.

At some point, a junior Math Club was formed. Students in that club studied the history of math and other aspects of the discipline, eventually graduating to the senior club. They also learned math shortcuts and prepared for future math contests.

By the 1960-61 school year, Sigma Mu and the Math Club disappeared into Huntington High School’s history. Today it is largely forgotten.

Huntington’s Math Honor Society took root in the 1990s. Teacher Monica Racz is the current faculty advisor. The organization’s executive board consists of Katie Stock (president), Jack Farrell (vice president), Charlie Sze (secretary), Arashdeep Singh (treasurer) and Jack Langton (tutoring coordinator).

The Math Honor Society will induct its newest set of members during a 7 p.m. ceremony on Thursday, January 10, 2019. Send a message to Mrs. Racz ([email protected]) for more information about the organization.